Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité – Vive la dotFR!

Stuart Durham

La Fête Nationale, or Bastille Day, commemorates the storming of the Bastille, a Parisian prison, on 14th July 1789, during the reign of King Louis XVI, and the locking-in of the French Revolution, which transformed France into a land of equality and democracy after centuries of archaic rule.

Today, Bastille Day is marked with parades in Paris and throughout France. Flags of red, white and blue fly everywhere, but especially on the Champs-Élysées where the large Bastille Day Parade marches from l’Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde. It’s expected to be especially well attended this year to demonstrate strong national solidarity in the face of the horrific terrorist attacks last November.

On this day of national celebration, I wanted to take a quick look at how the national dotFR TLD is performing; embracing the new gTLD opportunity as a catalyst for reinvention.

DotFR is managed by the Association Française pour le Nommage Internet en Coopération (AFNIC), which was formed in 1997. Under AFNIC’s management, the dotFR country-code TLD (ccTLD) has flourished despite the growing pressures on ccTLD registries caused by the vast range of new gTLD options. The past year has seen the dotFR TLD continue to grow to 2.9m active domains under management. This represents an increase of 3.2%, which is higher than the average performance of other European ccTLDs of 2.7% (the offering of domain names consisting of one or two characters having a major impact).

What’s equally interesting is that, unlike many other ccTLD registries, AFNIC has fully embraced the new gTLD space and has seen it as an opportunity to diversify from being solely focused on ccTLD registry management for dotFR to reinvent itself as a provider of technical solutions and registry services.

Currently it manages 17 projects for new gTLDs, of which 13 are in production. The most visible of the active TLDs is dotParis, which currently has 22,000 domains under management. The release of premium names in March and a well-supported ambassador’s program (here) has seen this City-of-Paris operated TLD achieve domain growth and increased consumer visibility. The most popular of these sites is currently the Eiffel Tower webpage (here), which is attracting over 400,000 visitors a month (10% via direct URL navigation) and is in the top 10,000 most popular websites in France.

Many people are unaware that Nokia started life as a paper and forestry conglomerate in 1865 – 108 years before Motorola produced the first hand-held mobile phone. Its corporate history has been one of continuous change and reinvention to remain relevant and successful. Could the new gTLD program be providing AFNIC with its ‘Nokia moment’?

Congratulations AFNIC for continued success and embracing the new gTLD opportunity. Enjoy La Fête Nationale. Vive la France!